Archive for the ‘Cambodia’ Category

SE Asia Travels

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Before we went to SE Asia we needed to look at the map to see where we were going. We also needed to look at a map several times when we were there. This was an area of the world where we did not know our geography. So—-in case you may be in the same boat, this is a map of our travels.

We flew to Hanoi, Vietnam first.  While there we traveled overland to Halong Bay.  We then flew to Phnom Penh, Cambodia via Vientiane, Laos.  While in Phnom Penh we traveled by bus to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat.  Next we flew back to Vientiane, Laos to do our MCC work and then flew to Luang Prabang, Laos.  Lastly, we flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand.  (Purple lines are flights and yellow lines are land travel.)

ThailandVietnamLaosandCambodia map

travel map

A Sober Ending

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

On our last day in Cambodia we spent some time seeing a few things in the city of Phnom Penh. There are many fascinating street scenes along with Independence Monument, monument to King Sihanouk, and the Royal Palace.

We also visited Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center—both very sobering. Tuol Sleng was originally a secondary school which the Khmer Rouge turned into a prison called “S-21” which was the biggest in Kampuchea Democratic. It was surrounded with a double wall of corrugated irons, surmounted by barbed wires. The classrooms on the ground and first floors were either divided into individual cells or a room for mass detention. Thousands of victims were imprisoned and exterminated. On the top floor of one of the classroom blocks is being converted into a Peace memorial with children’s drawings from Okinawa and from Phnom Penh.

Between 1975 and 1978 about 17,000 men, women, and children who had been detained and tortured at S-21 were transported to the Extermination camp of Choeung Ek. They were often bludgeoned to death to avoid wasting precious bullets.

Much could be said about both places. It is hard to imagine the horrors that went on here only three decades ago. And the West heard very little about it. But it is also hard to realize that there are these sites and horrors all over the world—Holocaust, Uganda and LRA, Rwanda, and now many spots in the Middle East.


Work in Phnom Penh

Friday, February 13th, 2015

We continue our work of saving documents for MCC Records and ditching most of the rest of the paper we find in MCC offices! We have a standardized list from MCC Akron which helps us decide what material should be saved. We also take into account what documents must be kept locally for legal reasons in each country. So far in the five countries (including last year and this year) we save (send to Akron) about 25% of the material we look at. Each country office is always happy with the amount that can be discarded! Some of that can be recycled but much needs to be burned because of privacy issues. Beginning in about 2010 or 2012 (depending on the country) most documents are digital and therefore, are much easier and less space-filling to keep.

We again are living with the Country Reps here in Cambodia—a family with two boys ages 6 ½ and 9. We travel to the office each day by tuk-tuk which is a motorcycle pulling a carriage. It is a pleasant way to travel amidst all the traffic. Bea, the dog, always joins us in the tuk-tuk.

Our time in Phnom Penh came at an opportune moment for the Office here. They moved sites this week. Our work with paper files eliminated needing to move so many file cabinets. We completed our work a day early so our last day was spent weeding the library, boxing up the remaining books, and then reshelving the books in the new office. When moving the shelves, three mice ran out. They were soon “taken care of!”

Compared to Hanoi it is quite warm here in Phnom Penh, in the high 80’s to low 90’s. We need a fan to keep cool. As in Hanoi, the MCC office eats lunch together. It is a nice way to have time with people here. By afternoon we are ready for a refreshing drink.

Siem Reap

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

We took a long weekend and visited Siem Reap where the World Heritage spot of Angkor is located. The father of the Khmer Empire, Jayavrman II, founded his capital here in 802 A.D. The Angkor era lasted until 1431. There are many temples in the area but we were able to visit only a few.

It was a 7 ½ hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. The bus was comfortable (and air-conditioned!) and gave us a chance to see some of the rural areas of Cambodia. At this time of the year it is quite dry and we saw many brown rice fields. Houses are usually built on poles and often have rice “straw” in large piles. We were also interested in some of the tractors with long handlebars.

The first evening we took a boat ride on Lake Tonle Sap to see a floating village and to see the sunset over the water.

The next morning we were up before dawn to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat (along with thousands of other tourists). We spent the rest of the morning exploring this largest religious monument in the world. We moved on to Angkor Thom where the fascinating temple Bayon is located. There are 37 of the original 49 towers remaining each with a smiling Buddha face on the four sides. The last temple we visited was Ta Prohm. Here trees perch on the walls with their roots sprouting between stones. These eventually cause the towers and chambers to collapse.

We enjoyed strolling the streets and market areas of Siem Reap in the evenings and an evening meal of duck (Ron) and fish amok (Sally Jo).